Eastbourne Eagles put in probably their best away performance of the season tonight (July 23) at Glasgow in the Championship Shield semi-final first leg.
They went down 47-43 in a dramatic match at the Ashfield Stadium.
The Sussex side led for most of the match against a team regarded as one of the ‘class acts’ of Speedway GB’s Championship league.
In the later stages, the home side combined to nose in front and take a small lead to the second leg at Eastbourne on August 3.
Tigers : Craig Cook 15 (5), Rasmus Jensen 10 (5), Paul Starke 9+1 (4), Claus Vissing 7+1 (4), Kyle Bickley 5+1 (6), Conor Bailey 1 (3), James Sarjeant 0 (3) – 47
Eagles : Richard Lawson 12 (5), Lewi Kerr 8 (4), Alfie Bowtell 6+3 (4), Kyle Newman 6+2 (5), Edward Kennett 6+1 (5), Jason Edwards 5 (5) – 43
Eastbourne Speedway director, Ian Jordan, said: “That was our best performance of the season by a million miles.
“Every rider was magnificent.
“Right from the moment when Jason Edwards and Alfie Bowtell got the 5-1 in heat two you could see that our heat leaders had a lift.
“If you could have offered us 43 points going into the meeting, we would have bitten your hands, your arms and your legs off.
“It was a superb debut for Jason Edwards but a big shout out for every member of the team. They all did a fantastic job for us tonight.
“It certainly sets it up perfectly for the second leg at Arlington.
“There is still a massive job to do but we have given ourselves a brilliant opportunity.
“Hopefully the fans will turn out in force on Saturday night to welcome the boys home.”
Here is our live blog from tonight’s match.
We are live for the crucial Championship Shield semi-final first leg tonight at Glasgow’s Ashfield Stadium.
Kevin Ling is trackside and Paul Watson is back in Sussex knitting it all together for you. It will probably be necessary for you to refresh the page to get the latest updates.
Eastbourne are without Georgie Wood and will use rider replacement to cover his rides.
Wood has been given a mandatory seven-day ban after missing an Isle of Wight fixture.
As we reported earlier, club director Ian Jordan explained: “Georgie Wood is unwell and as a result of missing an official fixture for the Isle Of Wight on Monday and following them reporting this to the SCB; Georgie has been given a mandatory seven-day riding ban by the Speedway Control Bureau over which Eastbourne have no jurisdiction or right of appeal.”
For Glasgow, their No 1 Craig Cook will ride, despite breaking his wrist in the Speedway of Nations. Here is now the Scottish Daily Star reported the story this morning.
SpeedwayGB reported this afternoon on its Twitter account.
Your Fineprint Eagles are on the track walk and it is a lovely evening in Glasgow. So, no weather issues
And just to give you a feel for the stadium, some photographs taken by Kevin Ling.
Well, after all, they are the Tigers
The stadium and track look great.
Tonight marks the professional debut for the Eastbourne Fineprint Eagles of Jason Edwards. He’s not phased – Jason always has a smile.
Last Friday, the Tigers suffered a rain off. As a result, the programme tonight is the one for that meeting + an 8-page insert. Here’s the cover.
And, here are the teams.
Craig Cook, James Sarjeant , Claus Vissing, Paul Starke, Rasmus Jensen, Kyle Bickley, Connor Bailey
Edward Kennett, Georgie Wood (R/R), Kyle Newman, Lewi Kerr, Richard Lawson, Alfie Bowtell, Jason Edwards, Sheldon Davies (No 8)
The second leg of the Shield semi-final is at Arlington Stadium on Saturday, August 3.
Next home match at Arlington is this coming Saturday (July 27) when Somerset visit in Championship league action.
We are just about set for the action to begin. It remains a pleasant evening and the bikes are warming up.
Just a sprinkling of Eastbourne Fineprint Eagles fans in the house. Thank you for making such a long midweek journey to support the team.
A fantastic effort from our wonderful supporters.
Here is the programme – of course, RR for Georgie.
OK, enough of the prelims…here we go. Hold tight folks, this is going to be epic.
Heat 1: Eagles off 1 and 3. Bowtell is RR in yellow. Super gate from Alfie to lead into first turn. Cook then goes past everyone like a dose of salts coming round bends one and two and is away. Sarjeant heads inside of Alfie going down back straight but Alfie recovers going back past on the outside while Edward Kennett goes through on Sarjeant’s inside heading into third bend. Sarjeant continues to press but a great demonstration of team riding sees the Eagles pair hold firm for opening share of the spoils – time equals track record 55.9. An opening 3-3.
Heat 2: BOOM – Alfie again fast from the start but Jason also electric around the outside to lead with Alfie down the back straight – that is how it stays with the Eagles pair extending the distance between them and third place Conor Bailey – a big 5-1 to the Eagles – great debut ride and win from Jason with Kyle Bickley well to the rear of the field, 1-5, 4-8, Time 58.29
Heat 3: STOPPED. Vissing takes the lead from the outset but Kyle Newman holding a good second from the chasing Paul Starke over the first lap with Lewi Kerr looking ready to pounce. Second lap and disaster strikes as Kyle gets into difficulties and catapaults himself off into the second bend air fence – he’s up and seemingly OK but is disqualified. It’s a re-run with three riders only. Re-run: again stopped as Lewi hits the front heading into first turn – all three riders called back under orders with a warning for Lewi to remain stationary at the start. 2nd re-run: Inevitably this time it’s Starke who hits the front and that’s where he stays. Vissing looks set to join his partner as he pressured second place Kerr heading down the back straight but Lewi was having having none of it. A t titanic scrap ensuedwith the Eagle seeing off the every challenge of the Tiger. It’s a 4-2 to the hosts but the Eagles still lead: 4-2, 8-10, Time 57.2
Heat 4: And the Eagles right back at them as Richard Lawson flies out of the traps to record an all the way win over Rasmus Jensen – and a big hand and loves to super Jason Edwards who rides the wide line to record his second beating of the chasing Kyle Bickley: 2-4 10-14 time 56.76
Heat 5: Jason Edward takes the RR. It is a a tough race to crack for the young Eagle this time as Vissing and Starke hold firm in second and third but there would be no stopping the flying Kennett who hits the front out of turn two and increases his lead with every turn of the wheel: 3-3, 13-17, time 57.06
Heat 6: DRAMA. Richard traps like a bullet out of a gun and for a time it appears he might just have Cook’s measure. It was not to be, unfortunately, as the Team GB star set aside his injury woes to go through on Lawson inside, quite brilliantly it has to be said down the back straight of lap two. Behind them, it was a case of damage limitation. Alfie is well on the gas tonight and makes a great effort to see off the chasing Sarjeant . The race halts prematurely as the Tiger takes a tumble entering the final lap. Red lights come on with Cook in sight of the yellow flag so race awarded with no time: 3-3, 16-20. Sarjeant stays down and looks in some discomfort and ambulance comes onto the circuit – the home rider eventually rises to his feet and thankfully is able to walk back to the pits,
Heat 7: It’s Jensen all the way but Kerr and Newman have him in their sights. The Eagles look comfortable in the minor places but their task is made all the easier as Bailey drops his bike out of turn two of the second lap. He’s soon up and on the centre green allowing the race to continue and with the points again shared with almost half the match done the Eagles still lead by four: 3-3, 19-23, time 58.20
Heat 8: Kyle Newman is the RR. All the way win for Kyle as he hits the front heading into the first turn. This time Bickley gets a measure of revenge over Jason but the 16-year old is never far from the action. Sarjeant looked uncomfortable out on track and he slows down the back straight of lap two . He finishes but it’s another 4-2 to the visitors who now lead 21-27. time 59.0
Heat 9: Starke makes a fine start and looks to have got the drop on Richard but the Eagle (code name, Son of God I understand among the Tigers fans) lived up to his name by powering around the outside to take a lead that he wouldn’t relinquish. It looked to be all the better as Alfie slipped on the inside of Vissing heading into lap two and the Eagles were on for the 4-2 but a momentary loss of control for the Eagles’ reserve at the tail end of lap three saw Vissing back through to reclaim third place. Alfie never gave up the chase, however, and wasn’t far away at the end: 3-3, 24-30, time 57.12
Comment from your match reporter, Kevin Ling: End of heat nine and the Eagles still lead by six – I’m just praying that alarm doesn’t go off and wake me up ?. Interval and (extensive) track grading taking place now. Half-term report: A fantastic team effort from all the Eagles so far. Every man has had their moment to shine and playing their part. Tigers looking ever so slightly shaky, at best; and borderline vulnerable at worst. All of that can change though folks, so stay tuned for part two.
Heat 10: Here we go into the final third. Kyle Bickley in blue replacing James Sarjeant. Lewi gates to lead but Cook has all the legs down the back straight moving around the outside and into the lead. Kerr and Kyle Newman hold firm in second and third with Bickley never getting a sniff . A 3-3 it remains and with five heats remaining Eagles still lead by six, 27-33, time 57.00
Heat 11: Bowtell is the RR. Jensen takes the win from Eddie but Alfie rode a great race to fend off Bailey. It had been tight between the pair heading into the first turn with Bowtell nosing ahead but Bailey came back hard at him slipping into third place down the back straight. Alfie was having none of it, though, and came back under Bailey on bends three and four to win the battle. It was hard but fair and what this league is all about. The home crowd didn’t seem to appreciate it and made their feelings known – words seemed to be exchanged but a 3-3 it remained, 30-36 with four left on the card 57.49.
Heat 12: OUCH: A barnstorming finish now in prospect as Vissing takes the win and credit where it’s due; Bickley producing a superb effort to come from last to second picking off Bowtell and Newman in successive laps. Volume now cranked up and Tigers fans have found their voices: 5-1, 35-37, time 58.27
Heat 13: Getting too close to call now as Cook scorches to four wins in four – Lawson giving chase to him with Ed Kennett looking to contain Jensen. It looked to be job done but the Dane produced a turn of speed down the run down the back straight last time round taking him into third: 4-2, 39-39 time 57.53
Heat 14: Bickley replaces Bailey. Starke puts the hammer down to see off the challenge of Kerr and a rejuvenated Bickley again comes through from the back to get the better of the ever chasing Jason Edwards. A 4-2 to the Tigers who now lead for the the first time on the night, 43-41 time 58.75
Heat 15: Comment before heat 15 from Kevin Ling: With the unbeaten Cook sure to play a part in the nominated riders race, the Tigers must fancy their chances of carrying off the win. Come what may, this has proved a superb speedway meeting and – employing my Eastbourne bias – it has been a superb effort from all six Eagles. Jensen (r) Cook (b) Lawson (w) Kennett (y ). Eagles off 1 and 3.
And here is how heat 15 unfolded: What a race to finish. Tigers take the 4-2 to win the first leg 47-4 . Jensen hits the front with Lawson and Kennett holding second and third from Cook – he powers down the back straight flying past both Eagles to join his partner and a 5-1 looks to be on the cards.
Lawson produces a moment of magic to come around the outside on bends 1 and 2 of the third lap cutting between the Tgers down the back straight to lead. Cook was again superb though and once he’d recovered from the back draft he swooped around Richard on the final run down the back straight to nick the win and complete his maximum, 4-2, 47-43, 58.16.